From its humble beginnings as a sailor’s uniform to an iconic fixture in every woman’s wardrobe, the Breton stripe has come a long way. We uncover the storied history behind a style icon.
The Breton’s beginnings can be traced back to 1858, when the French navy in Brittany were issued a new uniform: a shirt with 20 navy blue stripes, symbolising Napoleon’s victories in battle. Its status as a modern classic was cemented in 1917, when Coco Chanel, bored of flouncy Summer dresses in Saint-Tropez, created a collection of casual, striped pieces.
Coco Chanel (right) and Audrey Tautou in Breton stripes in the film Coco Avant Chanel.
Throughout the twentieth century, the Breton stripe endured – and the original design has changed little to the present day.
Pablo Picasso in the 1930s; Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s
From Audrey Hepburn to Pablo Picasso, it transcended age, gender and profession with its simple look and feel.
Audrey Hepburn in 1956; Jackie Kennedy in the 1970s
In 2016, the Breton remains as effortlessly chic as ever – here are some of our favourite ways to wear it at The White Company.
Breton Stripe Shift Dress, now £34.50/ Breton Stripe Maxi Dress, now£34.50
Balmy days call for throw-on dresses that pair wonderfully with sunglasses and a sun tan – and Breton stripes lend any silhouette an easy, lived-in feel. Stow our holiday-ready striped maxi and shift dress in your suitcase for simple style on-the-go.
Breton Stripe Side Split Jumper, £59 / Essential Breton Stripe T-shirt, £39
It doesn’t get more classic than navy and white stripes – the Breton as Coco Chanel intended, and we’ve got plenty of newness for Autumn. Seasonally appropriate from Winter to Summer, it’s permanently within easy reach in our wardrobes for those ‘nothing to wear’ mornings. We feel best wearing ours with our new biker jeans and Supergas for effortless off-duty chic.
Comfy, classic and breathable, Breton stripes are one of our favourite ways to dress the littlest members of the family. Baby boys look picture perfect in a red jumper, while older girls will love mirroring Mum in a pretty shift dress.
Looking for more new-season inspiration? Stay stylish as Summer segues into Autumn with our new clothing collection here.
Chic and simple, it’s a warm-weather favourite – from Audrey Hepburn to Coco Chanel, we uncover the storied history behind the Breton stripe (and how we wear it in 2016).